Women’s living conditions have deteriorated since the start of the pandemic

Increasing gender-based violence, difficult returns to work, poor mental health: the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic have worsened living conditions for women around the world. On International Women’s Day, Tuesday, March 8, studies sound the alarm again.

Gender-based violence is on the rise

UN Women published a survey in November 2021 of 16,154 women in 13 middle-income countries (Colombia, Ukraine, Morocco, Bangladesh, etc.). 45% of these women say they have been victims of or know a woman who has been the victim of violence since the start of the pandemic

“Economic insecurities, school closures, or even the mental strain associated with household chores have created an environment conducive to conflict within the family” , explain LynnMarie Sardinha and Avni Amin, researchers at the World Health Organization (WHO). And just like before the pandemic, women are more victims of online violence than men.

” De revenge porn (distribution of pornographic content without a person’s knowledge) and child crime risks have increased in a very worrying way”adds Muriel Salmona, a psychiatrist specializing in the study of disorders after trauma.

Decreased mental health

The UN investigation shows that: two in five women felt the pandemic was negatively impacting their mental health. In question, the mental load caused by the management of household chores, “linked to higher risks of stress and depression in women than in men”, according to LynnMarie Sardinha and Avni Amin. A mental load exacerbated by teleworking, children at home and restrictions on trips.

Another indicator, studies on women’s movements during and after the pandemic also reflect the deterioration of women’s mental health. During the detention, they had to report to the state for their outings – just like men – but also very often for their husbands, recalls Marion Tillous, teacher of geography and gender studies at the University of Paris VIII. This very specific context may have held back “the confidence of women, who are now less daring to leave” from their homes and, according to her, withdraw into themselves.

The difficult implementation of telecommuting

LynnMarie Sardinha and Avni Amin point fingers the incompatibilities between telecommuting and household choresthe mistake with a rigidity of the employers. “More and more women had to quit because they couldn’t handle the double stress of their profession and the mental strain of the household”assure the WHO researchers.

The study of women’s movements during the pandemic shows that they spent more time on household chores than on work, compared to men and compared to pre-pandemic. These studies show that ‘Inequality has grown and we have fallen 20 years behind’denounces Marion Tillous.

Working from home has certainly led to a reduction in attacks on public transport, say the experts contacted by AFP. But returning to the office by bus or metro was accompanied by an increase in the feeling of insecurity. Three out of five women interviewed in the UN survey consider themselves victims of sexual harassment on public transport more often than before 2020

The new recital of women’s speech

“We can speak of a real effort (from associations and government agencies) to be more responsive and effective against domestic violence” since the pandemic, Muriel Salmona says.

An observation that Marion Tillous tempers. The tools have been identical since the start of the pandemic, the academic regrets. “We no longer hear women who are victims of violence, but they speak in a vacuum.”

For LynnMarie Sardinha and Avni Amin, the health crisis has shown the consequences of an unequal distribution of household chores, with serious consequences for women’s mental health. “The pandemic has provided an opportunity to envision a different and more equitable future for women, especially those most excluded or marginalized”They propose.


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